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eXistenZ (1999)

2:01 | Trailer
A game designer on the run from assassins must play her latest virtual reality creation with a marketing trainee to determine if the game has been damaged.


David Cronenberg
3,552 ( 389)
3 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jennifer Jason Leigh ... Allegra Geller
Jude Law ... Ted Pikul
Ian Holm ... Kiri Vinokur
Willem Dafoe ... Gas
Don McKellar ... Yevgeny Nourish
Callum Keith Rennie ... Hugo Carlaw
Christopher Eccleston ... Seminar Leader
Sarah Polley ... Merle
Robert A. Silverman ... D'Arcy Nader
Oscar Hsu ... Chinese Waiter
Kris Lemche ... Noel Dichter
Vik Sahay ... Male Assistant
Kirsten Johnson ... Female Assistant
James Kirchner James Kirchner ... Landry
Balázs Koós Balázs Koós ... Male Volunteer


Allegra Geller, the leading game designer in the world, is testing her new virtual reality game, eXistenZ with a focus group. As they begin, she is attacked by a fanatic assassin employing a bizarre organic gun. She flees with a young marketing trainee, Ted Pikul, who is suddenly assigned as her bodyguard. Unfortunately, her pod, an organic gaming device that contains the only copy of the eXistenZ game program, is damaged. To inspect it, she talks Ted into accepting a gameport in his own body so he can play the game with her. The events leading up to this, and the resulting game lead the pair on a strange adventure where reality and their actions are impossible to determine from either their own or the game's perspective. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <kchishol@execulink.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Play Or Be Played. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sci-fi violence and gore, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »



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Release Date:

23 April 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Existenz See more »


Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$810,262, 25 April 1999

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (workprint)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Jennifer Jason Leigh had already finished shooting her role in Eyes Wide Shut (1999) when she took on this role. When her scenes in that movie required re-shooting, the schedule required for it interfered with this one. Leigh chose to stay on this movie, and her role in Eyes Wide Shut (1999) was re-cast. See more »


When Pikul is extracting the tooth from Allegra's shoulder, the sleeve of her top is rolled down. In the next shot after it comes out, her shoulder is covered again, but Pikul's hand resting on it hasn't moved. (There are deliberate costume discontinuities in this movie, when the characters shift in and out of eXistenZ, but this isn't one of them.) See more »


[first lines]
Seminar Leader: eXistenZ. Written like this. One word. Small 'E', capital 'X', capital 'Z'. 'eXistenZ'. It's new, it's from Antenna Research, and it's here... right now.
See more »

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User Reviews

Play it. Live it. Kill for it.
10 April 2003 | by Old JoeSee all my reviews

The way you pronounce the name of this film is a little different. The story that is shown is certainly different, and after you have seen it, you will say it is movie that is definitely different in almost every aspect. Of course, I am talking about the 2000 sci-fi thriller, 'eXistenZ', which shows that going into the world of 'virtual reality', can be weird and dangerous. 'eXistenZ' also proves that virtual reality' can be a world that one cannot be sure of being in or out of.

During the first closed-door demonstration of an amazing new virtual reality game - called 'eXistenZ' - the system's brilliant designer, Allegra Geller, is violently attacked by a crazed assassin intent on killing her and destroying her creation. Forced to flee into hiding, Allegra enlists the help of young marketing trainee, Ted Pikul, to help her test the damaged system, by convincing him to join her inside a game of eXistenZ. The action then explodes as their world's real-life dangers begin to merge with the fantasy of the game.

This film has a most unique and unusual story, but in a good way. I have read on the internet, that eXistenZ 'makes the Matrix look like child's play', and I would have to agree. What I will say about this film's story, is that it gives the impression that its audience will understand where it actually is, and that they will believe who someone is, is truly that person, and that they are on a level par. I guess that is what is most inventive about the film, to make what is seemingly so true, to be actually not true at all. The writer/director of eXistenZ, David Cronenberg (from 'the Fly'), wrote a most inventive screenplay, that I am sure you will not see in along time.

This movies lead actors are Allegra Gellar (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and Ted Pikul (Jude Law). The pair share a most unique chemistry onscreen, as we see their game characters doing some very weird and wacky things as they keep going deeper and deeper into the game of 'eXistenZ' they are playing. I love the way that both Leigh and Law turn this movie into a very erotic kind of an experience to watch. Allegra says this is all part of the game and that the pair should not give into any of these so called 'bits'. I must mention that Jude Law suits this kind of movie genre. Law has also been a part of the Steven Spielberg movie 'AI', which was another unique movie that I did not mind.

The supporting cast of this film was also good. I like how we get to meet the guy at the gas station who affectionately known as Gas (Willem Defoe). The role that he took on in this film suits him down to the ground. However, I thought that his role of the 'Green Goblin' in the 2002 blockbuster 'Spiderman' was ordinary to say the least. Other supporting cast members include Kiri Vinokur (Ian Holm), the strange man at the trout factory Yevgeny Nourish (Don McKellar) and the Chinese waiter (Oscar Hsu).

I also like the way this movie looks. The 'virtual reality' world created for 'eXistenZ' looks so weird and wonderful, that part of me feels that I might be tempted to play the game. Then the creation of the funny creatures in the movie, the funny pods that are used to play the game and the surprise in the 'special' Chinese meal are interesting to see as we go further and further into the film. Then take the great parts of the film. I like how this movie starts, as it is one thing that needs to be looked at carefully, or you could misread what is happening for the entire movie. When the lead pair then start to play eXistenZ the movie becomes all the more interesting, as this is the part where you can start to realise that not everything is what it seems.

But here is a clue for you out there that are a little confused by the whole reality vs. virtual-reality parts of the film. The film does point out very subtle clues as to what mode both Allegra and Ted are actually in. However, if you are one person who is clever enough to work out the movie's entire plot, then you are one lucky person, as even I am still thinking up questions that I want to know the answers to (such as: was the entire movie just a game? What does the end of the film actually mean? Did those mean streaks that happened in the supposed 'game', turn out just to be glitches in the real life 'virtual reality' game? What should you make of the two lead characters after the end of the film?) I am sure I will think of more questions, but whether I find out there answers is another thing.

The whole world of 'virtual reality', is becoming realer and closer in the world that we live in. We can enter into many different aspects of virtual reality at the drop of the hat, thanks to technologies such as computers (the internet) computer games and the movies that we watch. However whether the whole idea of 'virtual reality' is good, that I am unsure of. My opinion is if we enter into a world that is outside of our reality, than we could be giving something of ourselves that we don't actually know we are giving, and could turn us into people that we might not normally be. That being said, this movie makes me so curious about the world that I have just criticised. If you want to experience a film that goes one step further than what the Matrix did in certain aspects, then I can only recommend that you dare yourself to enter into the game which is called 'eXistenZ'.

CMRS gives 'eXistenZ': 4.5 (Very Good - Brilliant Film)

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